Estate Planning

Individualized Estate Planning: Why Joint Wills Fall Short

May-19 2023

Estate planning is a vital process that allows individuals to determine how their assets will be distributed after their passing. While joint wills may seem like a convenient solution for couples, they often come with significant drawbacks. In this article, we will explore the pitfalls of joint wills and why individual estate planning is crucial for ensuring your wishes are accurately reflected and carried out.

  1. Lack of Flexibility: One of the main drawbacks of joint wills is the lack of flexibility they provide. Joint wills typically dictate that the assets will pass to the surviving spouse and only after their death to the beneficiaries. This rigid structure can be problematic if circumstances change or if the surviving spouse wishes to modify the distribution of assets.

  2. Inadequate Provision for Blended Families: In cases where couples have children from previous marriages or relationships, joint wills may not adequately provide for all parties involved. A joint will often prioritizes the surviving spouse, potentially leaving children from previous relationships without their intended inheritance. Individual estate planning allows for customized provisions that consider the needs of each family member.

  3. Ineffectiveness in Case of Divorce: Joint wills can become invalid or require substantial modifications in the event of divorce. If a couple separates or divorces, the joint will may no longer reflect their wishes. Individual estate planning ensures that each person can update their estate plan according to their new circumstances and preferences.

  4. Potential for Disputes and Challenges: Joint wills can be subject to disputes and legal challenges. If a surviving spouse decides to alter the provisions outlined in the joint will, beneficiaries or other family members may contest these changes, leading to lengthy and costly legal battles. Individual estate planning allows for clearer and more personalized instructions, reducing the potential for disputes.

  5. Limited Privacy: Joint wills are typically filed with the court after the first spouse's passing, becoming a matter of public record. This lack of privacy can be undesirable for many individuals and may expose sensitive family and financial information. On the other hand, individual estate planning offers the option to keep details confidential and away from public scrutiny.

While joint wills may appear appealing for couples seeking convenience, they often bring a host of problems and limitations. Individual estate planning allows for greater flexibility, customization, and adaptability to changing circumstances. By creating separate wills, each person can ensure that their wishes are accurately reflected and carried out, while providing for the unique needs of their beneficiaries and protecting their privacy.

Choosing to create an individual will or trust using GoodTrust's services offers several advantages over joint wills. GoodTrust offers the flexibility and customization needed to meet individual needs, and you can easily create and update your individual will or trust online, ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your specific wishes. Our digital vault securely stores important documents and assets, allowing for efficient organization and easy access. GoodTrust's advanced encryption and security measures protect your sensitive information, providing peace of mind.